Friends and Comrades

Hello curious DSA members!

I have been working overtime to find and reach out to like minded Friends and Comrades running for National Political Committee. Over the last few weeks I have worked with and felt out all of these dedicated DSA activists. We have all decided to endorse each other and hope you will consider each of us as individuals but also see the common threads that connect us and our work. Major points of agreement include:

  1. Emphasizing the multi-tenancy nature of DSA
  2. Maintaining the administrative role of NPC
  3. Preserving the autonomy of local chapters
  4. Working to help facilitate your local organizing work
  5. Tying local struggles into national campaigns
  6. Ensuring local chapters are able to access dues funds through a dues split and a grant process
Alexandra Dudley (North Bay/San Francisco LSC):

https://oh-by-jove.tumblr.com/post/163569259503/npc

 

Brandon Payton Carrillo (Chicago LSC):

https://brandonpaytoncarrillo.com/npc-platform/

 

Dan Pozzie (Providence):

Delé Balogun (Independent Chicago Left Caucus):

https://delebalogunfornpc.wordpress.com

Jack L. Suria-Linares (LA Unaffiliated):

 

Jetta Rae Robertson (Oakland LSC):

https://medium.com/@jettarae/a-challenger-appears-vote-jetta-rae-for-npc-of-dsa-765f613f4cdb

 

Alexander Kolokotronis (Connecticut LSC):

http://www.geo.coop/blog/platform-socialist-transition-alexander-kolokotronis-national-political-committee-democratic

 

Ensuring Local Autonomy and Increasing Local Funding

The autonomy of local DSA branches has become a flashpoint during the run up to this NPC election. There have been calls for more centralization of political education, as well as a national campaign that would be DSA’s main organizing focus for the next year.

I believe that National DSA should help co-ordiate chapter’s activity across the country, but that local’s should have the autonomy to assess how they will interface with national struggles and campaigns. Historically successful movements for social change in the United States have given local organizers freedom to come up with creative dynamic ways of confronting local manifestations of injustice and oppression. If a local fight sparks national attention, national leadership should be working to boost that struggle and give it the profile it needs to succeed. DSA’s decentralized, democratic nature is what many of us found inviting in the first place, and the potential to build on anger in the grass-roots is going to happen organically from the bottom up, not from top down directives.

NPC’s traditional role has been a largely administrative one, and there is a resolution to depoliticize NPC and to move political questions to the local level. I joined the race for NPC because I became alarmed that some groups were signaling their intention to increase NPC’s role in political work, then elect a block of NPC candidates that would  exercise control over political questions in a way that DSA has never experienced before. I want to keep NPC’s role as it had been, to ensure one tendency does not have the power to bend DSA to it’s singular will. Ideological diversity is why DSA is the largest socialist organization in the US, and diversity of tactics will ensure that we have a wide variety of tools to reach for when confronted with challenges during our fight to build socialism in America. This is why I have signed and endorse the Unity statement.

As we grow, questions over local funding from national dues have been raised. Locals need access to some resources to get projects started, and buy what they need to build their membership and act effectively. National also needs adequate funding to pay staff, and co-ordinate national campaigns. I endorse the 80/20 dues split to ensure that locals do get control of some resources. I also support robust local fundraising efforts, from “passing the hat” to abortion bowl-a-thons, to fundraising dinners, shows and other events. These drives help build chapters and let locals build campaigns around their local, grass roots initiatives. Given that even with the 80/20 split and local fundraising may not be enough for a smaller chapter to start and sustain a fight, I am also endorsing resolution 31 dedicating 10% of national funds set aside to ensure that locals can apply for grants for creative, exciting and vital fights.

I hope all of these measures together will help locals grow and build the infrastructure they need to fit their local contexts. I know that a strong national organization will be depending on strong locals coming up with the creative solutions we will need to fight and win!

Increasing the Presence of Women in Leadership and Passing a Harassment Policy with Teeth

DSA is a growing and dynamic organization that has attracted an unprecedented increase in membership. While we know DSA membership skews white and male, it is imperative that DSA promotes people who identify as women into visible leadership roles at the local level to cultivate and grow talent and ensure women’s voices are heard throughout the organization.

This year there are lots of exciting talented people who identify as women running for National Political Committee from all across the country, and that shows we are building support with women nationally. Women’s voices are indispensable to winning the fight we have ahead. Because of the centrality to women in our struggle, national DSA has proportional representation for the elected members of NPC. I think all elected bodies in DSA at the local chapter steering committees should have proportionally allocated slots for people who identify as women as well. This will help to ensure we cultivate talent and preserve a diversity of perspectives at the local level where our daily struggles are playing out.

But a major factor that has been discouraging some of our comrades from fully participating in DSA has been harassing, bullying behavior from other members. In nursing we call this “Lateral Violence”, where someone attacks, bullies, or harasses a colleague. Because of the rapidly growing nature of DSA and the small size of some of our newest chapters, some members have used this situation to attack or harass people they think they can intimidate, especially some of our female comrades. There have been reports of sexual harassment as well, with some people attempting to turn DSA into their own personal dating pool.

DSA needs to be a safe and welcoming space to everyone who wants to build socialism, not just a boys club. People who do not understand this are harming our organization and the movement for socialism generally. When I found out there was no national harassment policy I was frankly upset. DSA needs to get it’s house in order so that no-one feels like they cannot safely organize with us or feels like they are being victimized by someone’s predatory behavior. DSA needs to pass a harassment policy that allows victims to escalate complaints outside of their local when they don’t feel safe from retaliation from their own steering committee. There should be a process where claims are addressed and predatory individuals are disciplined or expelled. Mediation between individuals should be provided by national DSA to ensure the safety of all involved. Beyond the fact that this is right thing to do, it is also the only way we can build a grass roots organization that lifts all of our voices and concerns.

 

It’s as Simple as B.D.S.

Until Israel recognizes the political and human rights of all of its inhabitants, both Palestinian and Israeli from Gaza to Jerusalem, and through to the West Bank, it should not be treated as a normal state. Until the families scattered by the Nakba secure the right to return, and reparations are paid, by Israel and the international community, the settler colonial apartheid state of Israel should not enjoy the privileges of international legitimacy.

DSA needs to get on the right side of history and justice, to help encourage an equitable peace with full self determination, power sharing and economic justice for all residents of Israel/Palestine and the greater middle east.

DSA needs to pass BDS.

The March on Washington

My personal experience with the anti-globalization/antiwar mobilizations at the turn of the century, as well as my observation of the women’s march on Washington has taught me one or two things about gathering a few hundred thousand folks at one spot to make a political point.

Effective mass mobilization is a result of, not the end goal of effective organizing. Much as I don’t eat in order to shit, I do not organize to bring about a culminating cinematic event.

Effective mass mobilizations of the past were the outgrowth years of militant localized struggles, where organizers worked within the grass roots, cultivating militant actions, general awareness and testing tactics that can be taken to other areas. Effective national organizers need to be able to travel to locals to give advice, support, and observe what works and what doesn’t in order to take lessons learned to fights in other parts of the country. They also need to be honing messaging to build popular support.

Mass mobilizations without the effective incorporation of (or at least real threat of) militant direct action do not get the attention of elites. Until we have a vast base of angry people (much much larger than current DSA membership) who are willing to shut down the status quo, if even only temporarily, then the MoW action will indeed be just a part of the fabric of every day life in DC. A mass mobilization set for a year from now will heavily depend on outside coalition partners who will bring with them their own expectations and goals and willingness to disrupt Washington DC. Already at our own local healthcare working group meetings the issue of conflicting militancy vs cultivating powerful individual allies has potentially curtailed more radical action. When groups like Planned Parenthood in California are actively working against our end goal of Single Payer at the state level, then we know we will have a big problem with such coalition partners.  While recently social media has proven incredibly effective on getting people onto the street when the national political crisis feels acute, it is the face to face organizing, the “hard work” that builds movements. Much as a tree growing in sand blows over at the first strong gale, we must avoid the mistake of seeing huge crowds of people as a substantial, committed base of support.

To the concrete conditions of our current political moment.
1-Barring a significant and radical shift in messaging the democrats will likely lose or fail to make significant gains in the house in 2018
2-The neoliberal wing of the party is already gearing up to fend off a left wing populist insurgency for 2020, and may be successful again
3- We could see a trump victory in 2020 which again without left-populist gains in congress -under whatever party or form, will result in the same legislative paralysis we see now.

We must remember that the Mass demonstration is for two audiences, the powerful, whom we want to fear us, and our base, whom we want to hearten. An action now, when there is zero chance of single payer even coming up for debate won’t even have the first audience. If we jump into Mass mobilization as a goal, as opposed to the logical end point of a nationwide campaign that has millions of adherents and politicians either actively friendly or afraid of the consequences of being seen to be in opposition to us will result in one of two outcomes: 1) a well attended event/march/rally, that results in nothing, which leads to despair or 2) a poorly attended event/march/rally that is ignored and is therefore actively harmful to our national organizing by publicly exposing our weakness.

Fighting for a New Socialist Freedom

Healthcare Strategy

I am an ICU nurse at University of Chicago working on my masters in nursing at Purdue University Northwest. I have worked in nursing homes, Long Term Rehab, Hospice, and Emergency rooms in community and university settings. I  have studied healthcare reform in school and on my own time and have been a single payer advocate for years. I work with my good friend Dr. Philip Voerhof who is an attending pulmonary critical care doc at U of C and on the national board of Physicians for a National Healthcare Policy, and we are working with to build a national strategy for radically restructuring healthcare in the United States to ensure equal access and health care justice.

I am super excited by the amount of energy that is being poured into Single payer advocacy, but many do not seem to grasp how complicated the problems of stitching together our fragmented system of healthcare fiefdoms is going to be.

I believe that no plan to fix healthcare in the US is going to work without a comprehensive plan to drastically expand the number of health care professionals, including primary care providers, general surgeons, Emergency Room docs, and Ob/Gyns available to the public. Nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physicians assistants seem to be nowhere near this debate and we will need a way to ramp up education of MDs as well as these advanced practitioners while ensuring they are distributed and working throughout the vast swaths of under-served healthcare deserts throughout both rural and urban America. The same goes for other support professionals such as pharmacists, physical therapists, mental health professionals and technicians. Comprehensive funding for students will have to be brought on to break the chains of student debt that pulls MDs into high paying specialties and incentivizes revenue maximizing behavior. I work with young MD’s fresh out of school and the bitterness about student debt and the crushing realities of caring for those who must make healthcare decisions in the light of personal economics has made many of them ready to shift to new forms of healthcare delivery. To those who would resist us, to paraphrase Aneurin Bevan, we may have to “stuff their mouths with gold”.

Resources will have to be diverted from “healthcare cathedral” hospital construction to localized clinic systems in a big way. A national trauma care fund should be founded to build level one trauma care that everyone can reasonably access within the “Golden Hour”, as well as similar programs for stroke and cardiac centers.

 

Pharma will have to be broken, either through rigorous anti-trust action, medicare negotiations, or outright nationalization. The generic manufacturers should be nationalized to ensure that no critically important drug is on shortage (when I brought in the list of over 100 drugs on shortage to our working group meeting people actually left kind of frightened).

This is only scraping the surface of fixing the actual delivery of care, not to mention the insanity of our insurance system.

But the problems are familiar to anyone paying attention or personally affected by a health problem.

The issue of the strategy to fix it all seems to be stuck grinding away stuck somewhere between first and second gear. I suspect that Healthcare reform strategy will be a very contentious issue given the tone that the online discussion has taken over the past weeks.

We need to radically shift the narrative surrounding our health system and fixing it, while finding points of leverage that we have not noticed yet.

I have proposed within our working group some new tactics for the healthcare fight.

1) We need a Universal Healthcare pledge modeled on my favorite Leninist Grover Norquist’s Tax policy pledge so we can begin to identify friends and allies, as well as our enemies. Every politician in Washington and at the state level must go on the record in favor or opposition to a policy proposal that has majority support in the US. Until we know where people stand how can we pressure anyone?

2) We need to encourage militant healthcare themed direct actions, record and publicize stories of how healthcare in America is failing all residents, we need to hold intensive education events for internal and external consumption, and we need to be showing up at town halls, calling politicians, and generally calling out those who don’t support us while praising and supporting those who do. Key constituencies will be young doctors, nurses, nursing home assistants, labor orgs, the uninsured, and everyday people who are by all polling extremely anxious about the state of healthcare delivery in the United States.

3) Finally, on messaging, we need to invert the neo-liberal narritives that have surrounded these debates in the past.

-Collect healthcare horror story videos to spread far and wide across social media
-Emphasize how everyone with private health insurance is effectively paying a private tax, essentially at the rate of northern European social democracies, but with worse outcomes
-Expose the contortions all of us have to undergo that severely abridge our personal freedom to maintain access to healthcare
-Highlight the outright avaricious greed of Pharma, Insurance, and certain high level providers that are stealing healthcare from us.

4) We should keep the idea of a march on Washington on the table, but not before 2020, when we will be needed to put pressure from below on either a neoliberal democratic administration (hello president Zuckerberg!), or support a left populist administration in their struggle against the neoliberal centrists in congress, or worst case scenario put pressure on a 2nd Trump administration with hopefully enough left populists in congress plus terrified self interested neoliberals to present a plan to Trump that is effectively “an offer he can’t refuse”

I have never been so upset about the state of healthcare delivery in America, yet also so hopeful that our national healthcare nightmare will be resolved.